Good Mom Friends are Hard to Find
As much as we would like to, we can't choose our family. We can't even choose our kids. Genetics is an interesting game of Russian Roulette that some people lose and some people win. With that said, sometimes happiness boils down to the friends that you choose.
It's taken me a while to build a group of good "Mom Friends". I define mom friends as people who are moms, that are my friend. Pretty simple. After having my first child I found myself deeply distraught and disappointed. Sadly, it wasn't the mommy blues or postpartum, it was my quarter-life crisis that kept haunting me. Most people feel that anxiety at 25 when they realize they aren't a kid anymore and it's time to grow up. Your ambitions are still strong, you have no money but you have all these big ideas and dreams. If you're a millennial you think you should be farther along than you are or at least in a career that "makes you happy". I had a great network of 20 something friends all in different stages of their beautiful lives who were loving and awesome and supportive. I loved them deeply and appreciated their exchange of the plight of dating and career and school and loans and finding ourselves. At the time I got pregnant (25) my college and young adult friends were still experiencing all the awesome that was burgeoning ahead in their love lives and careers. I on the other hand began the trek into a chapter of life that seemed daunting.
So after my first kid, I kept up with my single, dating friends. One kid doesn't really have the capacity to keep you back from too much. Once you get the hang of nursing in public, you can pretty much do what you want. But 7 months in, I was knocked up again and that is when I couldn't really get out and about much. I rarely saw my friends and I began to feel quite sad about my new life of motherhood. Let's not talk about the third child. So while pregnant with my third child, I was determined that I would not be held back by motherhood. I wouldn't be alone everyday and I would get to go out to places and do cool things. So, I started taking my kids to the park... Yes, the park. There I was visibly pregnant with 2 small almost twins and trolling the park looking for moms with similar values as my family. It took months. I met older moms, richer moms, poorer moms. Moms that didn't want to be moms, moms that only ever wanted to be moms. I met moms who I didn't like, but our kids clicked. I met moms who I liked, but my kids hated their kids. It was a mess, a learning experience and an adventure. Finding mom friends was like interviewing applicants on a dating game show.
Finally one day the sky opened up and I met another mom who I liked. In fact our oldest girls ran up to each other like sisters from another life and embraced. I had never seen anything like it. I figured, if my somewhat stranger conscious toddler holds tight to a child she doesn't know stronger than she holds her sister sometimes, I gotta meet this kids mom. So we started talking. She was pretty cool. Her son was also around my second daughter's age. Her family was looking to buy in my neighborhood... awesome. We exchanged numbers and emails and vowed that we'd see each other again. We hung out a couple times and slowly but surely we began to add other moms to the mix.
So the period of time during my third pregnancy, I kept meeting more moms. Some I called, some I prayed I'd never see again. I wondered, Where were these people during my other pregnancies? Maybe I wasn't confident enough or desperate enough to go trolling the playground. Either way, the over abundance of potential mom friends was a great opportunity for me to pick and choose and playdate and see. More moms joined our group. Some moms even left the group. Right now we're at a total of 4 super cool moms and 10 awesome kids ranging from a few months to 5 years old, and I love it. Are we perfect? Nope. Do we agree all the time? No, but we have great conversations about EVERYTHING. It's great to let your kids go play safely and you enjoy coffee or tea and treats and talk to people who have had experiences just as horrible and just as wonderful as your own.
I cherish all of my friendships and am greatly appreciative that I can move in different circles and share experiences with friends with kids and friends without. It's really a blessing to send love out to others and get it back in return.
Here are my recommendations for choosing "Mom Friends":
1. BE LOYAL. Don't abandon your friends who don't have kids, unless they make you feel really bad about yourself. But if they are awesome, you need to keep them. They can help you improve your life because you can see small things to aspire for. Your life and kids should be an inspiration to them as well.
2. BE FRIENDLY. Don't be afraid to approach a mom that you like. It sounds creepy. So don't be creepy. But if your kids are playing well with some kids you don't know, introduce yourself to their parents. Start talking to them and then see where the conversation goes. If it's great, schedule another playdate.
3. BE SAFE. Meet somewhere public the first four times at least. And if you are a poor judge of character, meet in a public place even more times. People are psychos but most people are normal. You still don't want to take yourself or your kids into a place or situation that is dangerous. Follow your gut.
4. BE HONEST. Commonalities and balance are what make good friendships. You have to be honest about what you can tolerate, what your values are, what your social expectations are, you socio-economic background and education level and your disciplinary style. There is no point in trying to be friends with someone that you do not respect or see as your equal. Respect is what makes friendships great. You don't have to agree on everything, but you shouldn't compete with your friends and you shouldn't look down on them or their family either.
5. BE COOL. Breakups happen in marriages and in dating, they can happen with friendships too. If someone in your mom circle is not really playing nice or fairly, it's ok to let that person go. Someone more awesome will step in later. I recommend rather than having only one mom friend, have a group. It never gets tired, you can never really get mad at anyone and there is a diversity of thought and input. See all of your friendships (mom friends and non mom friends) for what they are. Don't use anyone and don't put yourself in a position to be used/bullied, etc.
6. BE YOU. The best part of having mom friends is being able to be a mom with your friends. You can talk about ANYTHING, including childbirth and the other people just laugh or cry with you because their reference point is similar. There's no point in having mom friends to put on airs. Don't be crass, but also know that you can be you. My kid peed on the floor at a playdate, no one got upset, I grabbed the cleaner and wiped it up and we all kept talking throughout.
7. BE PERSISTENT. If the first couple mom friends don't work out, it's ok. Finding new friends is like dating. Some work some don't. Some are forever and some are for a time. Don't give up. Once you find your group of friends, you'll know it.
Happy playground trolling!
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.